UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Most NHL goaltenders making their preseason debuts need a period or two to get into a rhythm and shake off the rust.

And then there is Carter Hart.


Hart, who will be playing in his first full NHL season, doesn’t believe in it.

Making his first start in more than five months, Hart was extremely sharp in his preseason debut Tuesday, stopping all 14 shots he faced in the Flyers’ 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

“He looked pretty solid, so it’s a good sign for us,” defenseman Robert Hagg said.

Hart, 21, played the first 30 minutes, 2 seconds and left with a 1-0 lead. The Flyers hope it was an indication of things to come.

“I felt really good,” Hart said. “I was seeing the puck pretty good. The Islanders kind of have a gritty style that they play in front of the net. They whack away at pucks, and the biggest thing against a team like that is that you just have to battle, and our guys did a good job in front of the net of battling.”

Travis Sanheim led all defenders with 26:43 of ice time. Sanheim and Hagg were the only Flyers defensemen in the lineup who are expected to be on the opening-night roster.

“We did a really good job of defending in our own zone,” Hart said. “A lot of guys were playing their first preseason game … and it can be tough maybe playing with guys you’re not used to playing with. But I thought we did a good job of sticking with our system at both ends of the rink.”

The Flyers used a much more youthful lineup than the Islanders and didn’t dress any forwards who are locks to be in their top nine, and the defense had mostly players ticketed for the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Still, the Flyers controlled the first two periods before the Islanders dominated the third session.

Hart wants to build on a solid rookie season.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Hart wants to build on a solid rookie season.

“It’s unfortunate we had a couple bad bounces at the end and to lose the game, but it’s preseason, and there’s time to correct things,” Hart said. “I thought there were a lot of positives to take from the game.”

The biggest positive was that Hart looks on track to improve on his impressive rookie season.

“He was in control,” first-year Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “He was taking the angles away when he had to, so I thought he played real well.”


Defenseman Chris Bigras, 24, signed as a free agent July 1 and probably headed to the Phantoms, opened some eyes in his Flyers debut. A former second-round pick (Colorado, 2013), Bigras had a goal and an assist in 22:29 of ice time. “You always come into camp trying to make the team. That’s the focus,” he said. “If it doesn’t happen, there’s a really good group of D down there [in Lehigh Valley], and we’re going to push each other, for sure. I think it’ll translate to everyone being better… and hopefully getting a chance to come up with the Flyers at some point.” … With Keith Gabriel suffering a leg injury Tuesday and Andy Andreoff not having his best night, Chris Stewart appears to be the top candidate if the Flyers want a physical right winger on the team. … The Flyers host Boston in an exhibition game Thursday, and Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier are expected to make their preseason debuts.